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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirSeptember 20, 20174min6770

Don’t expect the Colorado Union of Taxpayers to sugar-coat its contempt for Senate Bill 267, the omnibus, revenue-raising sleeper of a bill that passed in the final hours of the 2017 legislature last spring — and drew an outcry from many conservatives.

Sure, it may have shored up rural hospitals and schools and boosted highway funding, among other things, but to the folks at CUT  (and others, including many dissenting GOP lawmakers), the legislation amounted to an unconstitutional tax hike. They contend it should have been put to a vote of the people in accordance with Colorado’s constitutional taxing and spending limits.

So, when Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper announced earlier this month he would call a special session of the legislature Oct. 2 to fix an error discovered belatedly in the bill — it came as insult to injury for the decades-old advocacy group. And CUT’s Marty Neilson made clear in a press release Tuesday that she and her comrades have no interest in helping the governor clean up what they see as his mess:

If SB 267 wasn’t already enough of an affront to Colorado taxpayers, paying for a special legislative session to fix what our esteemed legislators and Governor failed to notice in the unconstitutional SB267 makes me “mad as hell” and “I don’t want to take it anymore!” Special sessions are expensive!   SB 267 starts off as unconstitutional (multiple subjects) piece of legislation; and, is an egregious violation of Taxpayers Bill of Rights (no vote by the people) for the tax and debt increases.   Mess ups like this do not constitute an immediate problem which must be addressed by immediate corrective legislation….

The press release concludes by, “Calling on all Colorado taxpayers to go to the Capitol and demand ‘Let Us Vote!'”

The error in 267 — it evidently went unnoticed until after Hickenlooper signed it into law in May — inadvertently cut the state’s many special taxation districts out of their share of tax revenue from recreational marijuana.

The governor insists the special session’s mission will be narrowly drawn to address that concern and nothing else. Yet, as Colorado Politics reported the other day, at least one lawmaker already is saying he wants to expand the session’s mandate to address transportation — or else he’ll vote against the fix. We’ll stay tuned.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirSeptember 20, 20173min2660

Tort-reforming Colorado Civil Justice League has announced a lengthy list of state lawmakers who will be feted at a league luncheon Oct. 20 for their efforts in the statehouse to curb excessive litigation. A press release from the league Tuesday said the legislators will receive the “Common Sense in the Courtroom Award,” along with a satisfying meal, at the annual luncheon at the Denver Four Seasons downtown. (Tickets are available at www.CCJL.org.)

Here’s more from the announcement:

“Common Sense in the Courtroom requires justice for those who have been wronged, balanced by fairness for those who may be wrongfully accused,” said CCJL executive director Mark Hillman.
A highlight of the 2017 legislative session was the passage of House Bill 1279 which addressed construction litigation by ensuring that homeowners are fully informed of costs and risks of litigation and given a formal voice in determining whether to initiate a lawsuit to resolve alleged defective construction.
“The most encouraging development this year is the growing coalition of legislators who value economic growth for all Coloradans above the narrow interests of personal injury lawyers and a handful of plaintiffs,” Hillman added.
The league notes it’s the “only organization in Colorado exclusively dedicated to stopping lawsuit abuse while preserving a system of civil justice that fairly compensates legitimate victims.”
For a full list of the lawmakers who’ll receive the award, check out the full press release; here’s the link again.

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirSeptember 19, 20172min2860

As news folks and political gadflies — but probably few others — know, city councils regularly schedule “work” or “study” sessions in which they are briefed on local issues but take no action on them. The sessions are open to the public but not necessarily structured to take public comment, which can leave citizens miffed when they show up to air their views. The Grand Junction City Council has decided to address the concern head-on in the interest of clearing the air.

As the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel’s Amy Hamilton reports:

In an effort to work on a solution, future workshop meeting agendas will be labeled as a forum for elected officials to converse, not necessarily open to public comment. If councilors notice a large crowd has gathered for an item, they’ll also pipe up at the meeting’s start to tell people comments won’t be accepted. However, more time will be allowed at twice-monthly meetings of the City Council for residents to comment on issues.

Mayor Rick Taggart introduced the issue Monday night after hearing feedback from residents who believed they would have more of a say at some recent workshop meetings.

Says Taggart, “I think sometimes we confuse our audience … Do we want input from the audience … sometimes we don’t.”


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirSeptember 19, 20173min2970

The Lakewood city clerk swept aside legal challenges Monday to a growth-control initiative that likely will face voters in the west Denver metro suburb this fall, so the fight is on. And critics of the measure have come out swinging. Cassie Tanner of Lakewood United for Responsible Growth, which was organized to fight the initiative, issued a blistering press statement following the clerk’s decision:

“Whether or not this 14-page, 4,800-word ticking time bomb of unintended consequences can legally appear on the ballot is debatable question. But there is no debating the fact that this Boulder-style anti-growth ordinance will make it more expensive for working families and seniors to live in Lakewood. And it will be a bonanza for the lawyers and the lobbyists who will be needed to navigate the arcane new permitting system.

Tomorrow Lakewood United for Responsible Growth is launching a digital ad campaign against the anti-growth ballot measure, featuring Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul, public school teacher Christine Wiggins, WestFax Brewing’s Anthony Martuscello and others.

There is a rising wave of opposition to this measure, from across the community and across the political spectrum.”

Lakewood United certainly appears to have lined up its supporters and thought through its playbook. “Boulder-style”; “bonanza for the lawyers and the lobbyists”; “more expensive for working families and seniors” — all firecracker phrases sure to incite different segments of the local voter spectrum.

The group behind the initiative, Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative, has carefully crafted its campaign lingo, too. Point person Cathy Kentner told the Denver Post: “The opposition is already filling the coffers of pro-development candidates, and I’m sure they will mount a high-dollar, high-pressure campaign to sell their unlimited growth stance.”

Both sides have slick websites and probably know how to wield them in a war of agit-prop. You know the drill. And each side has trained its sights on its respective bogeymen: developers vs. Boulder-style prosperity killers. Battle lines are drawn.

Now that initiative backers have gathered sufficient signatures — and legal efforts to halt the effort have been mooted by the clerk — the council will have a chance to approve the proposal or send it to the fall ballot. The latter option is more likely as Mayor Adam Paul and a majority on council oppose the initiative.

Thus, Lakewood, long regarded as a cross-section of Colorado’s electorate, will serve as the latest battleground for the unending battle over growth.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoySeptember 18, 20173min8440

We’ve all experienced the plight — you sprint to the restroom as your bladder is on the verge of imploding only to find the single-occupant bathroom relative to your gender occupied — while the other is empty. What to do?

Well, a Denver rule is set to take effect next spring which mandates non-gendered signage for single-stall and family bathrooms, and many businesses have already embraced the rule, the city says.

In addition to the signage, the rule approved last December and set to be fully implemented next April 30 stipulates single-use facilities be lockable from the inside.

For businesses that aren’t up to code yet, the change might be as simple as adding a new sign, the city pointed out. The rule won’t affect multiple-stall bathrooms or portable bathrooms.

The city said in a post on its website last week the change is about inclusivity and equal access:

“Many local businesses have long opted for more inclusive signage, because ensuring equal access to restrooms for all users achieves parity in bathroom wait times and removes barriers for members of our community who are transgender, gender-nonconforming, or non-binary; need the assistance of a caregiver of a different gender; or need to accompany a child of a different gender to the restroom.”

According to a December 2016 Denverite report, the change came about after Denver’s Denver’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Commission suggested the non-gendered signage as the city was discussing an update of the building code.

Denver is joining other cities like Seattle, Washington and Austin, Texas which have adopted mandates requiring some form of gender-neutral restroom signage.


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Erin PraterErin PraterSeptember 18, 20173min1900

If those Facebook memes proclaiming Christmas a mere 14 Saturdays away make you cringe, you just might hate this.

Alas, it’s not our job to pick and choose what we report. So here it is: The 2017 holiday ornament from the Governor’s Residence is now available for order.

The commemorative ornament, “Wishing Well,” was created by Denver’s Whitney Designs and is ninth in a series, according to a Sept. 14 email from a PR firm promoting its sale. Made of brass and “hand-finished in sparkling 24-karat gold,” it will set you back $30 plus shipping and handling, which you won’t incur if you purchase it at the residence during free holiday tours in December.

A bit of background on the ornament’s inspiration is sure to delight history buffs:

Few changes were made to the elegant mansion on Eighth Avenue when Claude and Edna Boettcher purchased it other than redecorating and refurnishing. The main architectural alteration was the enlargement of the room known as the Palm Room in 1926, to provide a place for entertaining at the Governor’s Residence.  Included in the addition was a half-moon shaped room to the right which was filled with palms and other tropical plants to accentuate its beautiful white marble. In the center of the sunken room is a historic century old white marble wellhead which came from Florence, Italy with cherub and floral garland motifs in haut relief under a bronzed metal arched trellis with a jardiniere bucket. It took the Boettchers five years of historical research and negotiation to get it to America. The Mansion Wishing Well is encircled by lovely patterned terrazzo flooring in shades of pastel green and rose.

Visitors to the Mansion delight in many extraordinary objects and pieces of art throughout the home that the Boettchers acquired but the Wishing Well is often mentioned as a highlight by guests to the Mansion.

Ornaments from past years have included “Boettcher Mansion,” “White House Chandelier,” “Governor’s Garden” and “Garden Gazebo.” Those that have not sold out are available here, at the Governor’s Residence Preservation Fund website, though the email states that the entire collection may be purchased for $270.

All proceeds go to the Governor’s Residence Preservation Fund, “an inclusive, non-partisan 501(c)3 dedicated to preserving the historic Governor’s Residence at the Boettcher Mansion in perpetuity for the people of Colorado to enjoy.”

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas ….


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoySeptember 18, 20174min2860

A proposal to scale back light rail service on a route exclusive to Aurora has miffed city officials who are characterizing reductions as unfair and premature.

The Regional Transportation District has targeted the 10.5-mile R line, which runs through the city along Interstate 225, for reduced service due to poor ridership. But, as the city points out, the line is less than 6 months old.

As Aurora Sentinel’s Kara Mason reports, the light rail cuts would target stops south of Anschutz Medical Campus and near the VA Hospital among others. Weekend service would discontinue and weekday routes would run at peak times — 5 and 9 a.m., and 3 and 6 p.m.

“Despite the short time the line has been operational, the up to 2,500 new residential units planned and under construction next to the light-rail line, and a connection to the Anschutz Medical Campus where 25,000 work and 1.7 million people are treated each year, RTD thinks the ridership isn’t up to par and wants to cut the frequency and add unnecessary transfers to the routes,” city officials said of the cuts in a statement, which also encouraged residents to use its draft letter to RTD to voice opposition

“The city of Aurora thinks it is not only premature, but also unfair to the residents and taxpayers in Aurora.”

In a letter to RTD, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said the district has fallen short on properly marketing the R line.

“Since the opening of the R line, RTD has failed to market the line in order to further develop ridership,” Hogan said. “We would like to see an aggressive advertising campaign implemented, as well as some innovative measures. RTD should be invested in the long-term success of the R-line.

“The proposed R line service cuts would impose two very inconvenient train transfers and doubling of travel times for riders making trips between the southeast corridor and the heart of Aurora (23 minutes to 44 minutes for a trip between Arapahoe Station and Aurora Metro Center station),” he said. “It seems these changes would also impact those wanting a direct and easy way to get to the country’s sixth-busiest airport-DEN.”

RTD will hold a public meeting discussing the proposed cuts Thursday Sept. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Aurora Municipal Center City Café on the 2nd floor.


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Kara MasonKara MasonSeptember 18, 20172min2650

Two years ago Gov. John Hickenlooper stood alongside artists in Loveland and announced the state would be the first in the nation to help develop affordable housing for artists across Colorado. That vision made another milestone last week in Trinidad, which was the first community chosen for the Space to Create program.

Trinidad, an old coal town located in the far southeastern portion of the state, learned it’s receiving 9 percent housing tax credits from the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority to fund its Space to Create project, which includes both work space and affordable housing for low-income artists and their families.

“This is a moment for Trinidad. This project will rehabilitate an entire city block on Main Street and will provide 41 new housing spaces to our downtown,” said Tara Marshall, development service director for the City of Trinidad, in a statement. “This is an extraordinary win for our community.”

The Space to Create project is the first of its kind. Artists, or those in related industries, meeting particular income requirements are eligible for the housing, which also make it easy to be creative, as workspace is attached. Three Trinidad buildings more than a century old will be transformed into the combined living, working and community space.

Trinidad has also done its part in making the project possible. Last year the city council allocated $1.6 million for the space.

“City Council recognized the opportunity to form partnerships that brought public, private and nonprofit funding to Trinidad to invest in our community,” Trinidad Mayor Phil Rico said in a statement. “This is an important milestone and I look forward to seeing this major project continue our revitalization efforts in our downtown.”

While funding has been secured, the project is still in beginning stages. City officials say the next step is to complete architectural design.